New Foster Puppy and Throwback Thursday!

20 June 2013
I heard about a five month old beagle mix puppy that was about to go to the town animal shelter and I stepped in and agreed to foster him.   I doubt he would have been put to sleep in the shelter, but I know that the town animal shelter is not the same as a puppy staying in a home.  I could not let this sweet little thing go there.  

I got him Monday night and oh, he is just the sweetest thing!   He is so mellow and mushy...NOT house trained though.  If I did not already have too many pets, I would have kept him myself!  On Tuesday morning, I sent out massive emails with the picture above.  My friend the local weather man even posted on his fan page.  By noon on Tuesday, my friend Shannon told me she wanted to see the puppy that evening.  Shannon came over with her daughter Morgan and they fell in love.  Her husband met her at my house and he fell in love, too.  They decided to sleep on it since having a dog and a two year old would be a lot of work.  They next day, they called and said they wanted him and for me to start calling him Brewster!   I am keeping him at my house until Saturday morning so they can puppy proof and get all ready.   I am thrilled that I will still get to see him.  I am just so tired and have not been able to do any TpT work because I keep trying to take him outside.   So far the housebreaking is going ok, but I will be glad to pass that job on to them :)  Don't you love happy endings?

Tomorrow is my last day of school with students!!!   Then we have to go back next week and make up to professional development days because of Superstorm Sandy...BOO!  

On, to Throwback Thursday!
My sweet and super creative friend Cara came up with this idea to feature some of our older posts.  I think this is fabulous because I know that many of you were not followers of my blog way back when! Click above to see Cara's post or link up yourself.

Teachers are often surprised to find out that besides blogging, I also have two Scholastic Teacher Resource books out:  50 Just Right Reading Response Activities for Young Learners and 20 Super Spelling Centers.  I wrote these before I became a blogger and the second book was not published until my first year blogging.  

This post was originally posted on May 26, 2011.

Teachers as Published Authors

I have gotten so many emails asking me how I became a published author for Scholastic.  I have one Scholastic teacher resource book that was published in May 2010, 50 Just Right Reading Response Activities.  I have another Scholastic teacher resource book that came out in April 2012, 20 Super Spelling Centers.  I hope this verbose post answers your questions.  
I would like to start by saying that I do not consider myself an especially skilled writer.  I have never been the best of spellers and grammar was always a struggle for me.  I have a degree in Literature and Rhetoric from SUNY Binghamton, so I am more cognizant of my shortcomings.  The good news about writing professional resource books, is that you don't have to be perfect at grammar, you just have to be able to convey your great ideas.  One of the things I love about teaching a primary grade, is that I get to be creative.  I love blogging, TpT, and publishing teacher resource books because I am able to share with other teachers and be recognized for my creativity.  

My first book, came about through networking.  This is not the normal protocol for becoming published.  I took a professional development course with Mary Beth Spann (click {here} to check out some of the books she has written).  One of her editors at Scholastic had asked her if she would be interested in writing another book for them on reading response activities. She decided to pass on the job, but recommended me to her editor.  I had shared some of my teaching ideas with her in our class and she thought that I would be well suited for the job.  I sent ten sample reading response activities and I was hired! 

My second book, came about through the more traditional route.  I sent a proposal to Scholastic.  My proposal included a query letter, my resume, an outline, an introduction/front matter, and samples.  Click {here} for a link on the specifics Scholastic would like included in a proposal.  I sent Scholastic two different proposals, one on a Laura Numeroff Author Study (which I turned into a TpT packet) and one on Spelling Centers.  Scholastic then contacted me via email and expressed their interest in my Spelling Center book. Below, I will further explain the parts of a proposal.  These proposal tips would work with any publishing company, not just Scholastic.

query letter is a formal letter sent to magazine editors, literary agents and/or publishing companies.  In the letter, writers propose their manuscript/writing in hopes of becoming contracted and published. For links on how to write a query letter, click {here} and {here}.

In your resume, be sure to highlight your areas of expertise.  Here is my resume:


An outline is basically your sample table of contents.  For my spelling center book, I included a list of the 20 centers and brief descriptions of each center.

Most professional resource books have an introduction or in literary terms, a front matter section.  This is the part of the book that tells you why and how to use the book.  To be honest, I never read the front matter of any Scholastic resource books until I became a writer of one!  Look at the front matter in other resource books for ideas.

Samples should be of your strongest and most creative ideas.  Make sure your samples are visually appealing and well edited.  Look at other books by the publisher.  Most books by the same publisher have a similar format or style.  For example, notice how streamlined and simple the Scholastic student direction pages are.  Don't worry about about what type of clipart you use, the publishers have graphic designers who will create their own graphics for the book.

Once you have proposed your book, it may be a very long time before you hear from the publisher.  You might not hear from the at all.  My mother has a children's book manuscript that she has sent to publishers in the hopes of getting published.  She could send out twenty proposals and only get one response back in the form of a rejection letter.  She actually gets excited when she gets rejection letters.  A rejection letter tells her that an editor took the time to at least read her manuscript.

If  the publisher shows an interest in your book, they might not sign you to a contract right away.  I was asked to scrap a few of my spelling centers and come up with new ones.  Then, I was asked to elaborate on the front matter.  After a while of back and forth via email, I was finally contracted.  As I did with my last book, I opted for an advance and royalties rather than a flat fee.  The standard writer's royalty percentage is 8% per book sold, for the life of the book.  This percentage decreases if books are purchased using bonus points or through discount markets.  It averages to about 80 cents per book sold.  I am happy to say that I have worked off my advance for the first book and now collect a royalty check twice a year.  I am nowhere near getting rich off these books, but it is a nice extra. 

Once contracted, you assigned a deadline.  You are also assigned an editor or two.  I had a freelance editor, who I work closely with through email.  She then reported to an editor who was employed full time through Scholastic in NYC.  I went back and forth with my freelance editor a few times a week reviewing ideas and formatting for the book.  Many of my original spelling centers were scrapped.  My editor became my sounding board.  Sometimes, I would lie in bed at night and a new idea would come to me.  I would scribble it down on a pad and email my editor in the morning.  She would either think it was fabulous or tell me that it needed more work.  When the book comes out, you will see there is a spelling center called Sailing Away with Vowels and Consonants.  I originally wanted to do Spelling Word Fractions, but the editors thought it would be too difficult for grades K-2.  So that center then morphed into Crustacean Vowels and Consonants, where the students were sorting vowels and consonants on crab and lobster legs.  Needless to say, that was not appealing to my editor and she asked me to keep on thinking.  Finally, I came up with Sailing Away with Vowels and Consonants.  I cannot share it with you, but I promise if you purchase the book, you will not be disappointed. 

Another interesting thing about writing a book is that it must be typed in Word without graphics.  Instead of placing graphics in the document as you would for TpT, you write directions for the graphic artists.  I wrote "WOL" every time I wanted a "Write On Line."

Once your manuscript is complete, the editors go over it.  My editor will email me with any questions she may have, but for the most part, it is out of my hands.  The editors then pass the manuscript on to the graphic artists.  Sometimes the editors will email me PDF files from the book and have my students test them out.  We want to make sure that there is enough room for primary students to write.    

Finally, the book is sent to the printer. As the author, I receive 10 free copies in the mail and the option to buy more at cost.  Along with these books, I receive a release date.   This is when the book will be available for purchase.  Here is my posts on my just released 20 Super Spelling Centers book.

Many teachers aspire to be Children's book authors.  If this is your goal, I recommend purchasing the book The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market.  I also recommend joining a local writers' group or taking a class taught by a published children's book author. 

I hope you have found this post useful and/or inspiring. Happy teaching and creating!

Here is the 2013 version:

6 comments:

  1. That was one of the best posts I have ever read! Way to go and thanks for ALL of the wonderful information! I will admit the dog hooked me but the information kept me reading and thinking. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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  2. Congrats on your new puppy! Dogs are the best and I love your story about scholastic! I love, love, love coming to your blog for ideas! I am still pretty new and learning (I always will be) & you have helped me so much! Thank you! :)

    Jessica*

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  3. This is awesome! It must feel really cool to be a published author. I actually bought both of your books as e-books a few months back, but I haven't had the opportunity to look at them yet. I'm sure they are wonderful, though!

    Erica
    Blooming In First

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  4. Nice! I read all through the author part. I write children's books (still waiting for a big publishing deal), but I am hopeful. For the authors that plan on doing PB, MG and YA they might consider joining SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators). So far I have found them extremely helpful! Thanks for sharing your experience!
    Kids Math Teacher

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  5. What great information. I have written my own personal books to use in class and never tried to publish. I have thought about it a few times, but always talk myself out of it. I appreciate your willingness to post this info and wish you further success on your books. I have and frequently use the reading response book. It's great. I actually bought it years ago. I then realized one day while at the copy machine...hey, that's one of the ladies whose blog I read!! Ha, ha.
    Amy

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  6. What a great and informative flashback, Erica! I remember pouring over that Children's Market book...

    When I taught first grade, I dreamed of being a children's book author: for a while, I had a manuscript considered at Penguin, and at a mere 23 years old, I was smitten. Then, the editor left and my project was canned. Years later, I need to try my hand at this again.

    So, in short, teachers, don't give up! Thick skin is crucial...if not, TpT and TN are a perfect avenue for us creatives...


    Have a great summer,
    Nicolette
    The Classroom Creative

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